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Microsoft Android Businesses Google Patents The Almighty Buck The Courts

Was Google's Motorola Mobility Acquisition a Mistake? 189

Nerval's Lobster writes "Even before the Google acquisition, Motorola Mobility was engaged in a major legal battle with Microsoft, insisting that the latter needed to pay around $4 billion per year if it wanted to keep using Motorola's patents related to the H.264 video and 802.11 WiFi standards. (The patents in question affected the Xbox and other major Microsoft products.) Had that lawsuit succeeded as Motorola Mobility originally intended, it would have made Google a boatload of cash—but on April 25, a federal judge in Seattle ruled that Microsoft's royalty payments should total around $1.8 million per year. 'Based on Motorola's original demand of more than $4 billion per year from Microsoft,' patent expert Florian Mueller wrote in an April 26 posting on his FOSS Patents blog, 'it would have taken only about three years' worth of royalties for Microsoft to pay the $12.5 billion purchase price Google paid (in fact, way overpaid) for Motorola Mobility.' This latest courtroom defeat also throws into question the true worth of Motorola Mobility's patents. After all, if the best Google can earn from those patents is a few pennies-per-unit from its rivals' products, that may undermine the whole idea of paying $12.5 billion primarily for Motorola Mobility's intellectual-property portfolio.
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Was Google's Motorola Mobility Acquisition a Mistake?

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  • by Sushubh ( 2908401 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @01:01PM (#43558343)
    You do not take his words seriously. Google has bigger plans for Motorola. Some of which we would see later this year. They need Motorola for a possible situation where Samsung forks Android away. Patents are a big part of the deal but I doubt Google thought that they would recover their investments through royalties. Loads of people said acquiring YouTube was a mistake. Just give it a year or two. Microsoft paid 7 billion dollars for Skype. Around the same for aQuantive which they now admit was a bad move! Google paid same for Motorola Mobility and I am sure it is worth much more (IP and assets).
  • Beside the point. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OmniGeek ( 72743 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @01:09PM (#43558507)

    Two important things are missed here:
    1) Google mainly bought the patent portfolio for defensive purposes, not as revenue engines in themselves. The point of the suit is that MS wants to use the patents without paying for them. It's basically a move in the MS-vs-Android war.
    2) The judgement doesn't pass the smell test. Read the articles over at Groklaw for the details, but the judge here is ruling that Motorola must accept patent pool rates for a pool they don't belong to, rather than negotiate rates using the methods of the group they are a member of. The whole proceeding has been slanted toward the home team (MS) the judgment seems to be very much an overreach, and probably won't survive appeal.

  • by bobaferret ( 513897 ) on Friday April 26, 2013 @01:13PM (#43558575)

    Something in this part makes me twitch... "patent expert Florian Mueller ". I don't know much about Florian except that he gets the word 'shill' used next to his name on occasion, I can't even remember why. Therefor I do apologize if I am mistaken if my mistrust is misplaced.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 26, 2013 @01:52PM (#43559169)

    Reading comments from the executives of Google, that doesn't seem to be the case. It was a big part of the reason that they bought Motorola, but not the "one porpoise" (I didn't know Google would have bought another company for a sea animal with such a weird name as "using its patent portfolio defensively").

    Google has been saying they're also just interested in being in the hardware business, and they see Motorola as one means to that end (from the looks of it, not the only). It looks like they're achieving their goal of breaking into hardware more via Motorola, even if they haven't made it profitable. Still probably cheaper than if they had started the whole thing from scratch. And Motorola hardware has a name for itself--whether that's good or bad to different people, it's still a name (personally, I love Motorola hardware and just happened to hate their software enough to not care about the hardware--it looks like Google's influence over the software might be fixing that issue in the future; others, of course, feel differently than I do). Google doesn't have a name for itself in direct hardware at all (aside from the Nexus line, which still isn't much of a name at all compared to practically everyone else in those fields), and they don't have to build that name because they got Motorola's name.

    The whole purchase of Motorola makes more sense when you take the whole breaking into hardware aspect into account. It just has to be seen whether Motorola can actually make Google any money still.

  • by mlts ( 1038732 ) * on Friday April 26, 2013 @03:06PM (#43560079)

    I wouldn't call MS a patent troll, as they have a number of valid patents, and are willing to license for a reasonable fee.

    Apple is not a troll either, but (IMHO), they seem to be all about scorched-earth tactics, so it is either the patent courts, or a bankruptcy court. Had they done like MS and said "we have patents and will sue to defend against them... but for $3/device, we will show you our patent portfolio, you take your pick, and we wish you the best", there would be a lot more innovation in the field. I'd probably go out on a limb and say that the residuals earned from Apple licensing in this manner would help their stock value, as it is money coming in even if they don't bother introducing an iPhone 5s or 6 this year.

    Also, Motorola isn't just deadweight. They actually are the only phone maker which has file based encryption for SD cards. Yes, 4.0 and newer encrypt the /data partition with dm-crypt, and a lot of devices don't use a SD card, but there are some (the Samsung Galaxy S4) that have a good amount of onboard storage and a MicroSD card slot... and the data on the SD card needs some protection, even if it is using an EncFS-like filesystem which is on a file level (as opposed to filesystem/image like dm-crypt or LUKS.)

    Motorola devices also have very good radios. I have a number of different brands of Android phones, and in general, Motorola's reception tends to be a notch above everyone else, and on par with whatever iPhone I am using.

    Of course, there are killed technologies, such as the ability to attach a keyboard and monitor to an Atrix or Atrix 2, that would come in handy big time, especially with Citrix or other remote screen software.

    Motorola has a lot of cool stuff... I just hope Google can get them off the encrypted bootloader kick. The locked bootloaders is the only reason I don't darken Moto's door when I look for a new Android phone.

All laws are simulations of reality. -- John C. Lilly